For a different kind of Japanese experience, those visiting Tokyo should definitely spend a night in Nonbeiyokocho. A narrow alley way running along one side of the railway tracks near Hachiko at the infamous Shibuya Crossing, Nonbeiyokocho has in more recent years become known as Drunkard's Alley - and it isn't necessarily because of the inebriated foreigners. This is where the salarymen like to get their drink on.
In this area, 40 of the smallest bars cram people in to smash back beer and food such as oden, nabe and yakitori. A typical establishment will hold no more than 6 people - 8 or 10 if you are lucky! - perched around a bar with a mama-san (the lady running the place) stuck in the middle. I say stuck because who knows how she gets in and out of there! Some of the more modern bars such as the Piano bar (named so for the piano that acts as a counter in the entrance room that seats only 2 guests) make use of their upstairs space too. Although the staircases are so small and steep that you may have to turn side ways to enter, and you may want to watch how much you drink because getting down is harder than getting up - especially in heels. See the piano bar below.
The way in which to get the best out of Nonbeiyokocho is just to open up one of the door ways and make a space for yourself. Most of the bartenders/owners/mama-sans speak a little bit of English but even if they don't, once the drinks are flowing, the conversation - and charades - do too. I can recommend the Piano Bar, Calms Bar as well as Yoshinoya - which is run by a very high-spirited (I don't want to say crazy) lady. We were bustled into Yoshinoya by a drunk salaryman who happened to run into us on his way back from the bathroom and proceeded to push us into the bar and slam us with beer and food.
After about 30 minutes, he paid our bill and then asked us to leave....it was like he had his gaijin entertainment thrill and that was that! There was also a great little bar opposite Yoshinoya which had just opened. It also had upstair seating by the way of cushions on the floor....and a pulley system to get your drinks to you. You shouted down the order, and up the drinks came!
Apologies for any fuzziness in the images and video....we were pretty drunk. A half hour of drink killing with a salaryman will do that to you. The best part was, the Mama-san was keeping up and then some. She was the drunkest of all!
Labels: Going Places, Night Adventures, Shibuya, Social Calendar, That's Japan Baby, Tokyo